lm386 – projects

I just got a batch of lm386 audio amplifying ic’s. I’m pretty stoked about it. Mostly because they were super cheap and I have seen them included in many applications.

Despite what you will read on many electronics forums, there are quite a few projects that you could use the lm386 for. So, I wanted to include some of them.

First off, here is one place you can find the datasheet for the lm386:
lm386 datasheet

Here is the pinout for the lm386:
lm386 pinout diagram

Interesting project #1
lm386 smashdrive distortion pedal
This looks simple enough to build and has a few options for modification.

Interesting project #2
Using the lm386 as an oscilator
This step by step shows how you can produce a square wave from the lm386. This is a good way (and cheaper?) to do something other than going the common 555 route.

Interesting project #3
DIY Tremolo Effects Pedal Schematic Using lm386
In this example, the author uses a lm386 as an amplifier and then oscillates the power of the audio amp with a 555 timer IC. However, you could use the second interesting project to create the oscillator using another lm386.

Here a link to the original article:
DIY Tremolo Effects Pedal Schematic Using lm386 and a 555 timer

Although the experts will say things like “don’t bother with the noisy little lm386 audio amplifier” or “the lm386 isn’t an op-amp it’s an audio amplifier! There are some many better suited IC’s” or whatever, we can clearly see that there are many things that the beginner can do with a handful of them.

One could easily create an simple syth with an lm386 generating a square wave as the primary voice. With a little effort, another lm386 oscillator could be made to modulate the volume (i.e. Tremolo) or the pitch (i don’t know what that’s called). Finally, everything could be distorted through a distortion circuit and amplified to a little speaker or headphone jack.

Good luck!!!


One thought on “lm386 – projects

  1. The LM386 is a great little chip with lots of potential. I think a lot of the “experienced” people give it a hard time, like the 555/556, because it’s low tech/lofi, noisy, etc. But that is what makes it so nice, it’s small size, low power use, and the stuff it can do.

    For a good base schematic for an amp and or distortion unit, check out Sonodrome.co.uk. They have some simple schematics that make some nice simple projects that can be heavily hacked/slashed/bent to make them whatever you want. Their distortion unit is very quiet until you start messing with the knobs and adding bends, very satisfying.

    I’ve not tried the 386 as an oscillator too heavily but I do intend on trying to recreate an Atari Punk Console using 1-2 if I can figure it out.

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